Take a tin of condensed milk… 0



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Don’t get me wrong I really love cooking.

 I can whizz around and produce the most fabulous roasts, stir fry and soups, toss pancakes, and with a hand behind my back, make fruit pies to die for.   My mother was a wonderful cook, and a lot of it rubbed off as I watched her, beating, sifting, and slamming the door of the oven as another perfect cake was completed.

But I slunk into a corner when the school fete was being discussed.  Jeanie, efficient as ever gave us our instructions.

‘Just bring a slice, and don’t cut it remember’.


Here it was again the famous ‘slice’ so strange to me when I first arrived in Australia. Yet the very fabric of life in a small town is affected by its women and their culinary skills. The cake stalls make fund raising a failure or success. Local women have a huge variety of recipes for slices, it is their ‘stock in trade’. So with a collection of ingredients designed to destroy dental health I began to bake.


No experienced stall baker could really exist without syrup, coconut, chocolate drops and dates.

In fact, if you just mixed that lot together it would be enough! Jenny Craig, eat your heart out, just reading some recipes stacks on the weight.

One recipe I found instructs:-

‘Take a large block of dark chocolate, a tin of condensed milk, biscuits and copha.’  Perhaps it should read, ‘then call emergency.’


The highest honour is to be a prize winner in the CWA. Stiff backed judges strut about spitting cake crumbs like wine connoisseurs Destroying reputations as they taste;  rejecting plate after plate. To win the top prize requires outstanding skill and a meticulous attention to detail.

“The secret’ one lady whispered, “is to use a ruler to measure accurately first, then slice cleanly” She also told me that cutting the sultanas exactly in half gained points. I knew I was lost.

I won prizes for art that year.


So armed with all this knowledge I have been trying to emulate my heroines.  Mostly I have failed miserably.  The first few crumbled and looked disgusting, next, batch was too fragile and the third had chocolate topping like concrete, it defied every attempt at dissection.


Fruit sank to the bottom of my fruit bars, cherries burned in my cherry squares.  Yet, occasionally I have triumphed by accident not design.


Asked to cater for a Church event, I made three huge batches of biscuits, and for once these were perfect.  I had nonchalantly thrown in more fat and sugar by mistake, resulting in a wonderful crisp yet light biscuit.  Then I became blasé, trying to invent a recipe of my own, adding ginger and chocolate then even gaily slopping in some sherry.  The resulting slice I then topped with half vanilla, half chocolate frosting.

I delivered my efforts to the hall; one of the women, used to my usual dismal culinary offerings eyed them with suspicion.  Without a word, she swooped and tasted one.

Exclaiming with surprise, and looking at me with her beady little eyes.

‘These, are really good, how did you make them?’


Gulp, I had no idea, so I had to stammer ‘I have no idea!’ Even my triumph was a bit of a let down.  The biscuit recipe just ‘happened’ as I went along.  I am trying to repeat my success though.  Variation number nine is just coming out of the oven; excuse me while I taste them.


I seem to need larger waisted pants lately, I wonder why?


photo credit: djwtwo via photopin cc

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. I love it!!

    Thanks for the smiles, Jaqui…this is a wonderful tale! 🙂

    1 REPLY
    • Thank you this site is fun isn’t it? looking forward to sharing more as we go on together.

  2. Reminds me of my first attempt at lamingtons. English and living in Singapore in the ‘fifties’ I had never seen or tasted one; I was at a loss! However, after throwing away the third batch of chocolate icing I gave up and decided that’s how it must be and made a fourth. When Aussie husband came home he loved my choc coconut mess. Have never made them since!

    1 REPLY
    • I can well imagine the mess, I tried Lamingtons, once was enough, also I kept eating the miss shapes!

  3. Once…many years ago, I made some shortbread using my mother-in-law’s recipe, for a CWA baking comp. To my utter surprise and delight I won. I had never one a baking competition before…nor won one since. Usually it’s the same women who win year after year and I really upset the apple cart that year, hehe! Great story, Jacqui, and it brought back many memories for me.

    1 REPLY
    • Thank you, I am actually going to try putting something into our agricultural show this Spring, the baking section is huge. Must be something I can do. Congratulations on your one and only win! Hope you kept the rosette.

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